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Memoir of the Rev James MacGregor D.D.
Chapter VII. - Second Year's Labours 1787 - 1788


"Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” Isa. lviii. 6.

“A little before winter set in, I went to Merigomish, a small settlement about ten miles, or rather fifteen miles, east from Pictou, in consequence of an invitation, preached to them on Sabbath, and visited several of the families. Having no prospect of a minister themselves, they begged of me to visit them as often as I could, and, as far as depended upon them, they put themselves under my charge. I promised to do for them what I could, and accordingly I gave them annually less or more supply for nearly thirty years, when they got a minister to themselves—the Rev. William Patrick. This application from without the bounds of my own congregation was some consolation to me. Indeed, I might be called the minister of the north coast of Nova Scotia, rather than of Pictou, for at that time there was no other minister along the whole north coast, except one Church of England clergyman near the east end of the Province.”

Among the first settlers in Merigomish were some of the Hector’s passengers, but the greater part of them were disbanded soldiers. From this it may be understood that they were neither so steady in their habits, nor so attentive to the duties of morality and religion as the people in the other sections of the county. In fact they were an extremely wild set.

In particular, drinking prevailed to an extent which is now almost incredible. An amusing anecdote is told illustrative of this. On going there once to preach, a man applied to him to baptize a child for him. Before consenting, the Doctor made some enquiries among some of his neighbours as to his moral character. He received the most ample testimonials as to* his good conduct. “But,” said the Doctor, “does he not drink? I have heard that he sometimes takes a spree.” “Oh yes,” was the reply, “but we all do that.” Until the arrival of a second minister in the county, the Doctor could only give them occasional sermons, but after that event, they became part of his regular charge, and received a fifth of his services, until the increase of the other sections of his congregation obliged him to relinquish the care of them. They were then for several years vacant, receiving occasional sermons from him and other members of Presbytery, until the settlement of Mr. Patrick in 1815. His labours among them were successful, so that a great change took place in the habits and morals of the community. Yet owing we suppose to the partial ministerial service he was able to give them, and the strength and inveteracy of their old evil habits, the change was not so complete as in other sections, nor did the people for a long time seem as thoroughly imbued with the spirit of religion as the inhabitants of other portions of the county.

“In November I received the first money for preaching in Pictou—a part of the first year’s stipend. I lived a year and a quarter here without receiving a shilling, and almost without giving any. I ought to have received forty pounds of cash for the preceding year (with forty pounds worth of produce), but twenty-seven was all that I received. The truth is, it could not be gotten. The price of wheat was then six shillings, and some of the people offered wheat for three shillings, to make up their share of the stipend, but could not obtain it. Almost all the twenty-seven pounds were due by me to some necessary engagements of charity which I was under. My board, which was my chief expense, was paid from the produce part of the stipend, winch was not so difficult to be obtained as the cash part. But even of the produce part there was nigh ten pounds deficient.

“I plainly saw that I need never expect my stipend to be punctually paid; indeed, scarcely anything is punctually paid in this part of the world. It is a bad habit, ill to forego. But my mind was so knit to them, by the hope of doing good to their souls, that I resolved to be content with what they could give. Little did I then think that I would see the day that Pictou would pay £1,000 per annum to support the gospel. I suppose I have lost £1,000 in stipends; but I have now ten times more property than when 1 came to Pictou.”

We must here give some account of the payment of stipend at that time, and during almost the whole course of his ministry. Iu the first place, the mode of raising the amount was by assessment. How it was for the first year or two we are uncertain, but from an early period this plan was adopted under the following pledge:

“We promise to pay to James MacGregor, minister, one hundred pounds currency yearly, one half in cash and one half in produce, as wheat, oats, butter, pork, viz., on the first Tuesday of March, yearly. And we hereby agree that there be a yearly Congregational meeting on the second Tuesday of July, to assess for and collect the stipends, as we are all to pay in proportion to our polls and estates. We agree that there be four or five assessors and collectors.”

And the following bond of adherence was subscribed by those who bad not been parties to the original call:

“We the underwritten hereby declare our adherence to the obligation subscribed by the older settlers of this river for paying the minister’s stipend, that is, conjointly with the former subscribers, we promise to pay to James MacGregor, the sum of one hundred pounds yearly, one half in cash, one half in produce, as wheat, oats, butter, pork, on the first Tuesday of 31 arc h yearly, by an equal assessment upon our polls and estates.

"Witness our hands this sixteenth day of December, one thousand eight hundred and three, at the East River of Pictou.” The assessment was made on their land, cattle, and polls, or adult male heads, one for example being at the following rate: Polls, 5s. each, cattle, Is. 8d., sheep, 1s., each hundred acres of land, 1s. 3d. We will give a specimen of one of the assess bills, as we think it will be deemed a curiosity iu the present day.

“Assess Bill of the Minister’s Stipend from 81st July 1S03, to the 31st July 1S04. West Branch.”

In making these assessments there was sometimes difficulty in adjusting the proportion due by the different sections. This we have on the back of the assess bills, such notes as the following, “East River, Pictou, June 1st, 1801:—Sir, I made the Sess-Bill long ago, but the upper part of the Settlement says, they will not pay you till they get better convenience of the sermon, and I did not send it down till now, and you will excuse me;—Your humble Servaut, I. C.” “And again, I, H. F., have assessed all them that is above Angus MacQuarry, and we want our share of the sermons at Charles Macintosh’s, as we will pay, till such time as we will agree about the meetinghouse.”

The plan of raising the stipends by assessment was liable to objection, and in practice attended with a number of difficulties. Accordingly, in the year 1807 an attempt was made to raise the minister’s stipend by voluntary subscription under the following heading:—

“The manner of raising the minister’s stipend by assessment being attended by several inconveniences, and it being thought probable, that it may be more conveniently raised by subscription, we, the subscribers, in order to make a fair trial, which of the two ways is best, have agreed to a subscription for three years. Wherefore we promise to pay or cause to be paid yearly, for three years, to the Rev. James MacGregor for his ministerial labours, the sums annexed to each of our names respectively at his house, on the first Tuesday of March, one-half in cash, and one-half in merchantable produce, at market price. Done at Pictou, October 26th, 1807.”

The result of this effort was a subscription on the Upper Settlement, East River, of £56.0.2, and on the Lower Settlement of £56.19.0. But assessments were resumed as early as the year 1810. In the year I815, however, the system of voluntary subscription was at length finally adopted under the following heading :—

“On account of the complaints and difficulties attending assessment, the Congregational meeting in July last resolved to raise the minister’s stipend by voluntary subscription, the subscription to be reduced or changed after three years, as the Congregational meeting shall direct. Of the half belonging to the (Upper) Settlements, amounting to seventy-five pounds currency, we, subscribers, promise to pay our shares annually, for three years, on the first Tuesday of March, to the Rev James MacGregor, for his ministerial labours among us, viz., the sums annexed to our names. N. B.—It was agreed by the Congregational meeting, that if the subscription should amount to more than seventy-five pounds, the overplus shall be deducted from the sums of those who subscribe highest, according to their circumstances, as the men appointed for that purpose shall decide. The sermons at the East and West Branch meeting houses shall be in proportion to the subscription belonging to each, March 1st, 1815.”

Such were the plans adopted for raising the amount. With these there was not so much reason to complain, but in every other respects, the arrangements were most deficient. During the greater part of his ministry the amount promised was entirely inadequate, even if it had been regularly and fully paid. After the breaking out of the war the prices of almost every article were very high, flour being often as high as five pounds per barrel, and upwards, and yet his salary for a long time was only £100 currency, $400. Even if this amount had been regularly and punctually paid, it would have been entirely insufficient for his comfortable maintenance, but this was very far from being the case. There were no regular times of payment observed. There were dates fixed at which the amount ought to be paid, but nobody thought the worse of himself, if he were weeks and eveu months behind the tiiue. Ilis first year had expired in July, yet it was November before any part of the salary was paid, and though their arrangements were not always so bad, and though there were always individuals who paid with some regard to the stated times appointed, yet more or less of this irregularity continued till the end of his life.

But the deficiencies were no less remarkable as to the amount. There was no sense of joint responsibility, except in the apportioning of the amount among the different sections of the congregation. As a congregation they did not feel any obligation to raise a fixed sum, but each man thought he had done remarkably well, if he had paid the amount of his own assessment. Thus he received the contributions of good payers, but those of the bad he bad to lose altogether. It must be observed that the large majority of his congregation were Highlanders, who are said “to have a decided preference for gratis preaching.” They had generally belonged to the Established Church in Scotland, where they had not been accustomed directly to contribute to the support of the gospel, and thus they were wanting to some extent in the inclination, and entirely in the habit of discharging that duty. Besides a large proportion of his flock continued to be new settlers, who had not the ability to pay if they were ever so willing. In this way a large amount was lost entirely. On the first year when the salary was only eighty pounds nominally, there were ten pounds short of the produce part and thirteen of the cash. The same thing continued every year. Among his accounts we find such entries as the following, regarding individual subscriptions. “A Mak. owes 14s, am willing to forgive.” “All due by former lists and more, but I forgive it.” “'With 6s. 8d., perhaps to be forgiven.” “I forgive 6s. 11d” “Paid, that is, forgiven.” In this way he might well say that he had lost upwards of £1000 of stipends.

In regard to the collecting the stipend, another circumstance must be mentioned, that during the principal part of his ministry the greater part of the accounts for stipend were kept by himself. During the first few years they were kept by the late John Patterson thus far, that a good proportion of the produce contributions were paid into his hands, and he sent them to market, or otherwise disposed of them, supplying the Doctor, in return, with goods or it might be some cash. But after his marriage, all accounts were kept by himself. If there were such officers as collectors or committee of management, it was but little they did, for he had still to deal with every individual contributor in his congregation. This involved a great amount of trouble, rendering it necessary that he should keep accounts with one or two hundred individuals, for sums from 5s. upwards, and receiving payments in a quarter of veal from one, a cake of maple-sugar from a second, or a bushel of wheat from a third.

We have before us John Patterson’s account up till the time of his marriage ; nine years after his arrival, and a few of the charges are curious. Witness the following items, with the exception of the first, all at the close of the account:


 

Some of our readers may have heard of stipend being paid in some curious ways, but we arc certain that the first item in the above list will be something new to them, at least as occurring this side of Mason & Dixon’s line. We shall have some explanations to give regarding it presently. In this account wc must notice the large deficiencies, not only the amount stated as such, but also the large amount of accounts and notes of hand, amounting to over £200, the greater part of which we may safely presume was never paid.

Then the real value of the produce part of the payments was far short of the nominal. This appears on the above, where there appears a discount of nearly 25 per eent, on that portion of the payments. We have before us piles of his accounts, which are full of such credits as the following :—(C. M‘K. 10Jibs, tallow.” “P. G., 3 bushels of wheat.” “I. T., 2s. Gd. in birds, and 131bs. in butter, and 191bs. sugar.” “ D. F., 26£ weight of butter; gave him a Gaelic Bible.” “P. F., paid in 1787, dogs,1 6s.; 1788, cash, Gs.; 1789, wheat, 11s. 6d.” W. owes paid by a sheep,” while another has the following credit, u paid two brooms.” Now, while many such payments were the full money value, at which they were estimated, yet many others were far from being so, and on the whole such a mode of payment was far from equal to cash. Often an inferior article was brought, an article which was unsaleable in the owner’s hands,—at a time when the minister did not need it, or could not convert it into a profitable use,—and yet he was expected to take it as a matter of course, and not only so, but to allow for it the highest price. He could not say much about its quality, or refuse it altogether, or chaffer about the price, without the risk of giving a serious affront. And the length to which some would go in taking advantage of him may appear in such credits, as the following, “121bs. ram-mutton,” or “361bs. beech-pork.”

When all other means failed, persons had an easy and never failing resource, viz., giving their notes. Such was the credit system then prevailing, that persons actually considered, that they had paid their accounts, when they had given their notes. A person once meeting another asked him where he had been. “Oh, I have been up at Mr. Mortimer's, paying my account.” “Indeed, how did you pay it?” “I gave him my note.” In the lists of arrears we find a number marked “paid by note.”

Few of these would be paid. A person has told me that he has seen him looking over his old papers, and as he came across such notes quietly putting them into the fire.

Though these notes were legal obligations, it would never have answered for him to enforce them by the civil law. We may mention here that many years afterwards an attempt was made to force payments for the minister’s salary—not by himself, for he would rather have lost all, than have pressed any person, but by the collectors on his behalf. For the honour of the voluntary principle, it may be mentioned that the effort was attended with most injurious consequences. Not only did the man who was prosecuted become his most determined enemy, but it lost him, for a time at least, one of his staunchest supporters. When the man was sued he came with a poor story to the Doctor, who with his usual kindness forgave the amount, and at his request gave him a receipt. The Doctor enjoined him to show this without delay to the collector, who had taken out the writ against him, in order that the process might be stopped. Instead of doing this, the man kept the receipt until the day of trial, and then after the collector had stated the case, produced the receipt. It was natural enough that the collector should feel annoyed, but being a man of high temper, though a great friend of the Doctor’s, he was highly indignant at him, although he was perfectly innocent in the matter, and it was some time, notwithstanding all the explanations he received, before his wrath was averted. It may be mentioned that the whole question of prosecuting for ministers’ stipend was tried in another case before the courts of law, when it was found that the laws of the Province did not sustain the practice, in reference to dissenters from the Church of England.

As we have referred to the modes of paying ministers’ salary, it is but just to remark, that the whole business of the country was at that time conducted in a similar manner. The system of credit universally prevailed, and there were no regular times of payment. This continued for many years, even when money became abundant, and, strange to say ! all parties loved to have it so. The purchasers hesitated not to take goods freely, the day of payment being so far off, they felt as if they were getting them without paying for them. It seemed so easy a way of getting what they wanted, that any system of ready payment they would have regarded as harsh and cruel. On the other hand, traders actually encouraged people to go in debt, either for the sake of retaining their custom, or the power which it enabled them to exercise over them. The credit system would not have been so bad if there had been regular times of settlement. But so far from this being the case, it was often difficult to get an account from the merchant, particularly if he thought it was to be settled. lie considered it his interest to keep persons in debt to him, that he might oblige them to bring their articles to him, and that thus he might be enabled to have them at his own price, while at the same time he charged the highest price for his goods.

The system was a ruinous one for all parties. The farmer was led into extravagance, purchasing articles with which he might have easily dispensed, and which he would not have purchased, but that the time of payment faded so far into the distant perspective, as scarcely to be perceptible. He made no effort to clear off pecuniary liabilities, and sat easy under a load of accumulated debt. Many thus became involved in such a way, that they were scarcely out of debt till the end of their days, many had to mortgage their farms, which in many instances were never redeemed. On the other hand, the merchant had a large amount due him according to his books, and fancied himself making money. But when he came to settle up his business, the pleasing delusion was dissipated. The sums due could not be had when wanted, and after distressing the people by legal proceedings, many of them were never paid at all, and the merchant was sometimes ruined, while his books presented an array of figures, which showed him to be a rich man.

Besides, the system induced a lax sense of obligation regarding pecuniary engagements, which to some extent has continued to the present day. The merchant would not pay the country people cash for their produce, hut would insist on their taking their payment in goods, and those at the highest price. The farmer felt this an injustice to him, as the goods were not equivalent to their rated money value, he learned to regard the interests of the merchant as opposed to his own, and came to feel himself justified in evading obligations—in palming off inferior articles, or in taking advantage as he could. This became so habitual with many, that it extended to all their dealings— with the minister as well as others; but the latter was under the most unfavourable circumstances, as he could not higgle or dispute about the justice of charges made, or the quality of articles presented. Altogether we have no hesitation in saying, that next to the free introduction of rum, nothing has been so injurious to the social and moral interests of the Province as the credit system so long prevalent.

In this account of the payment of stipend and of the mode of dealing in the country, we have rather described the state of things some years later. We therefore return to the time at which his narrative was interrupted, to remark, that here as before, “his deep poverty abounded to the riches of his liberality.” Prom the very first he was distinguished by his charity. During the early part of his ministry there came a spring, which proved very hard upon the poor settlers. Soon after he had received a payment on account of stipend, Donald MacKay, with whom he lodged, entering his room on a Saturday, found him with several small piles of money before him. “Ah,” said Donald, in his free and off-hand manner, “is that what you are at, counting your money when you should be studying your sermons?” “Oh,” said he in reply, “this is for such a person, and this is for such another, to enable them to buy seed.” “But,” said Donald, “they will never pay you back.” “Well, if they don’t, lean want it.” Those who were acquainted with the circumstances used to say, that not one half of it would ever have been repaid.

But the most distinguished act of charity perhaps of-his whole life took place in the first year of his ministry, and is referred to in the paragraph quoted above. He there remarks regarding the money part of his first year’s stipend, “Almost all the twenty-seven pounds were due by me to some necessary engagements of charity which I was under.” The act of charity here referred to we venture to say has rarely been equalled, and as he so slightly refers to it, we must describe it more in detail. Strange as it may appear at this date, the settlers who had come from the Old Colonies to several parts of Nova Scotia had brought with them slaves, and retained them as such for a number of years.2 Among others, the late Matthew Harris was the owner of a coloured girl, who afterwards went by the name of Die Mingo, and a mulatto man, named Martin. The question of the slave trade had just previously to the Doctor’s leaving Scotland begun to agitate the public mind of Britain. He had entered heart and soul into the discussion, and now when an opportunity was afforded, he gave practical proof of his benevolence and love of freedom. He immediately interested himself to secure the liberty of these unfortunate individuals, and for this purpose actually agreed to pay £50 for the freedom of Die. Of the £27 received in money the first year, £20 was paid toward this object, and for a year or two, a large portion of his produce payments went to pay the balance.

The poor creature was extremely grateful, and continued till her death to have the warmest feelings of veneration and affection for him, which feelings were retained by her family after her. She was afterward married to George Mingo, also a coloured person, who had served during the first American war. They were both in full communion with the congregation of Pictou, till their death, and esteemed as very pious persons, such as might have served as models for Uncle Tom and Aunt Chloe. They, as was customary at that time, used to travel round to the various sacraments, and I have been informed by persons now old, that when children, though black people were then generally despised, yet George and Die every where commanded respect. She died some years ago, and the late Rev. John MacKinlay, her pastor, used to state that he had attended the deathbeds of but few persons, from whom he had received more satisfaction.

By the Doctor’s influence, Mr. Harris was also persuaded to give Martin his freedom after a certain term of good service. He afterward married a woman belonging to River John, of Swiss descent, and removed to St. Mary’s where he had a family. He bore an excellent character, and seemed also to have profited spiritually by the Doctor’s instructions. On one of his missionary excursions, the latter was afterwards at his house, and baptized his family. He subsequently removed to the United States.

The Doctor also relieved a woman who was in bondage for a term of years, paying some nine or ten pounds for her freedom. He also paid for the board and education of her daughter; but she proved a worthless character.

Yet with that freedom from ostentation which characterized him in all his good deeds, he never mentioned the circumstances to any of his friends at home, except barely alluding to it in a letter to his father. One of his relatives, writing to him, says, “Your father is at a loss, you did not signify in your last to him your end for giving away £20 for some people in hardship, nor what they were to you. He wishes to know.” But his good friend, Mr. Buist, having obtained intelligence of what he had done, took measures to give it publicity, as will appear by the following extract of a letter from him dated March 18th 1791.

“I am much obliged for the six copies,3 but you were not so good as to tell me you had freed some slaves, but Mr. Fraser told me you had done so as to two. I got Mr. Elmsley to tea, he did not know of this, but spoke of an old woman very useful among the sick. I thought such goodness should not be concealed, and sent to the Glasgow Advertiser, and had inserted the following, ‘The Bev. Mr. James MacGregor, Gaelic Missionary from the Antiburgher Presbytery of Glasgow to Pictou, Nova Scotia, has published in that country against the slave trade, and has since recommended his doctrine by a noble and disinterested philanthropy, in his devoting a part of his small stipend for purchasing the liberty of some slaves. Such is the modesty of that gentleman, that he has not given his friends in this country the pleasure of this news, so honourable to his society and to the Highland emigrants from Scotland) but authentic information is received that he has purchased and liberated two young persons, adding to the favour education at school, and that he is in treaty for the liberty of an old woman, who may be very useful as a nurse to the sick.’ I hope I have not offended, nor will I beg pardon unless I have sent a false account or misapprehension. It was copied in the newspapers through Britain, and your name is famous. Luckily it appeared in that Glasgow paper that the resolutions and subscriptions by David Dale for £10 and other Glasgow gentlemen to the amount of £170, for carrying the Bill for abolishing the slave trade appeared, and was just placed a few lines before their advertisement requesting others to subscribe. I have virtually approved your book.”

The letter from which the above is taken has the following in short hand on the back, “ Received this on the 31st of May, read the account of the advertisement with trembling and (sweat?)”

It may be mentioned that the question of slavery was afterward settled in Nova Scotia in the following way. Difficulties arose in an action of trover brought for the recovery of a runaway slave, which induced the opinion that the courts of law would not recognize a state of slavery as having a lawful existence in the country, and although this question never received a judicial decision, and although particular clauses of some of the early acts of the Province corroborate the idea that slaves might be held, yet the slaves were all emancipated.

As we have referred to the subject of slavery, we shall here give an account of his controversy on the subject, though it did not take place till the following year. (1788). At the time of his intercourse with the Truro brethren on the subject of union already referred to, he learned that the Rev. Mr. Cook had been the owner of two female slaves, a mother and daughter. We have been informed that he obtained the mother as a gift from a person in Cornwallis, when on a visit there. At all events be afterwards sold her in consequence of her unruly conduct. The daughter he seems to have obtained by purchase. There is no evidence that Mr. Coek treated either of them otherwise than with Christian kindness. Indeed such was his gentleness of disposition, that it could not be otherwise. But to the Doctor, fired with the controversy then agitating Britain on the slave trade, the very idea of a minister of Christ retaining one of his fellow beings in bondage was revolting, and he made this a special ground of refusing all communion with a Presbytery, whieh tolerated such conduct in one of its members. He also addressed to Mr. Cock a long and severe letter on the subject. Though called a letter it was more like a pamphlet. This was received with a sort of bewildering surprise. Immediately after perusing it, Mr. Cock took it over to a friend, one of the Archibalds, who had also a slave. What was the result of their joint deliberations we know not. But in a short time they were still more astonished by the appearance in print of a similar letter entitled, “Letter to a clergyman, urging him to set free a black girl he held in slavery.” This publication excited great attention. The members of the Truro Presbytery were very indignant, as well as many of their friends, but many throughout Colchester not only read it with deep interest, but cordially approved of its contents.

We have published this letter among his remains as we are certain that it will be read with interest, not only for its subject matter, but also for its style and as a curiosity of the times. The spirit of this production will doubtless be regarded as deficient in Christian charity oven by many -who approve of its principles. Indeed it presents a remarkable contrast to that gentleness of spirit which characterized his later years, and must be taken as exhibiting the fervour of youthful feeling. In his subsequent letters he explains, that his strong language was meant to apply to the acts of buying and selling our fellow men, and not to Mr. Cock personally, and that in what lie had said he did not refer to his motives. Whatever may be said of the spirit of this production, wc venture to say as to its matter, that it contains, in a clear and forcible style, a thorough discussion of the principles at issue. Though other writers may have supplied many additional facts regarding the nature and workings of slavery, there is very little to be added upon the Scriptural question. It may indeed, be objected, that he confounds slave trading and slave holding, but both involve the same principles.

Mr. Cock was a man of very mild temper, and sat quietly under the castigation he received, but the Rev. David Smith, of Londonderry, being of a more pugnacious turn of mind, took up the cudgels, and several communications passed between them. The most of this correspondence has perished, but we have in our possession two long communications of Mr. Smith’s containing a full exhibition of his views. We may give a summary of his arguments. Indeed they are just such as are commonly urged by the friends of slavery in every age. The following are the principal—that the relation of master and bond servant implied no such power on the part of the master over his slaves, as over his cattle, but that they were merely in the situation of indentured servants, and that all that those who purchased them did, was to secure a title to their services in lawful commands for life, coupled with an obligation to instruct them in the doctrines and duties of religion— that the slaves had been originally sold by public authority in the states from which they came, having duly forfeited their liberty—that Abraham had servants born in his house and bought with his money—that there were slaves in the early

Christian Church, as appears from Paul’s directions to masters and servants in the Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians, from Paul’s directions to Timothy, 1 Epis. vi. 1, 2, and also from 1 Cor. vii. 20, 21—that Paul sent hack Onesimus a runaway slave to Philemon his master—that the relation is of the same kind as parent and child, master and servant, ruler and subject, and that cruelties inflicted in particular instances, did not argue against the relation in one case more than in the other—and that the immediate emancipation of slaves would be for their injury rather than their good.

In reference to this particular case, he argues that Mr. Cock, so far from being guilty of any ill usage of his slave, treated her in the most Christian manner. We give his statement:

“I can assure you that Mr. Cock’s girl never was nor is still wanted by him as a slave in the sense you understand it, but merely as a bond or indentured servant, and from the very first time he got her and her mother, he from time to time told me and many others, that he had no intention of always detaining them, if they behaved themselves well. And to my own knowledge, they were, and his girl still is, more tenderly dealt with, than the most of hired servants in these parts.

“Notwithstanding your confident assertions, I see no inconsistency in vour Rev. Brother’s (Air. C.) having ground to say, ‘He hath not shunned to declare all the counsel of God,’ and as a Christian discharged his duty to his fellow creatures as faithfully as he could, and at the same time retaining his bond servant; for I charitably hope iliat he is far from attempting to lord it over her conscience, but endeavours to instruct her in the same manner as he doth his own children, having given and daily giving her the same opportunities with the rest of his family both as to the more private and public means of instruction. And if all that keep bond servants had been or were disposed to treat them in the same manner that he hath done his—they would have reason to esteem it a happy privilege, that ever they came under the direction and protection of such masters. What baleful influence his example hath had or may have upon others I cannot see.

“What were his motives or reasons for disposing of the girl’s mother, he best knoweth, but as far as I can learn she turned so unruly, sullen, and stubborn, as to threaten to put hands on her own life, in which case she certainly forfeited her liberty, and so he disposed of her to another, who had been more accustomed to the management of such; and though she attained to enjoy a licentious liberty, as the event verified, yet she again made a desperate attempt both on her own life and the life of the fruit of her womb, which laid her new master under the necessity of confining her more than ever.”

Mr. Smith also shows considerable adroitness, though not always fairness, in catching at particular statements and expressions in the Doctor’s letter, as for example, when the latter solemnly charged Mr. Cock to liberate his slave, because till he did so, none of his services could be acceptable to God, he (Mr. S.) represents this as teaching the doctrine of securing acceptance with God by our own good works. The following specimen of his argumentation is of a similar character. “Did not your own conduct in purchasing a negro girl make you as deeply guilty as the Rev. Mr. Cock? It is in vain to plead, you purchased her freedom, for if it was such a heinous sin in Mr. Harris to keep her; is it not as heinous a crime in you to pay for her freedom? According to your principles her price is the wages of iniquity, and surely the giver is as deeply guilty as the receiver.”

He also complains much of the bitter spirit of the Doctor’s letter, and accuses him of “exciting a spirit of faction and party, respecting such things as neither directly respect the faith and practice of the church.” He also indulges in personal recrimination, which we need not farther notice.

We have given the facts on this subject, so far as we have been able to gather them, as from the prominence which the affair had in his life at that time, it could not be omitted, and because we regard it as a curious episode in the history of the Province. "We have done so with no feelings against the other party concerned. Mr. Cock was undoubtedly a good man, and acted on his light, and when we consider the large number of excellent men, who even in the present day defend slavery, we need not wonder, that a minister at that time should have followed a practice, the wrongfulness of which had only begun to be exposed. The girl who from that date was commonly called Deal MacGregor, in consequence of the Doctor’s speaking of her in his letter as his sister, continued with Mr. Cock as long as he lived. It is commonly said by those who knew the facts of the case, that it had been well for his family, if she had never been admitted into it.

The subjects we have now been discussing have carried us ahead of his narrative. We therefore return to it.

"As soon as the meeting-houses were built, the people set themselves to make roads to them, that they might be as accessible as possible by land. But these roads were nothing more than very narrow openings through the woods, by cutting down the bushes and trees that lay in their line of direction, and laying logs, with the upper side hewed, along swampy places and over brooks, which could not be passed dry, by way of bridge. The stumps and roots, the heights and hollows, were left as they had been. The chief advantage of this was, that it prevented people from going astray in the woods. During winter, the roads and meeting-houses both were totally useless; for the preaching was in dwelling-houses, with fire.

“I followed the same plan this winter that I did the winter before; I took the opportunity of visiting and examining, and did so with much the same success, for with many an evident progress was discernible. As I went round from river to river, I saw much diligence in attending public ordinances; many taking pleasure in religious conversation, and numbers under great anxiety about the state of their souls; but numbers were also careless and ignorant, and not a few were irritated.

“When summer arrived, I had to set my face to the dispensation of the sacrament of the Supper, without an assistant. The best members of my congregation were willing to have the assistance of one or both of the Colchester ministers, but I could not get over my scruples to invite them, and happy was it for me that they (the congregation) were so temperate. It was no small grief to me that I could not accept of the assistance of my brethren, but, except to a few individuals who were previously irritated, it caused no offence in the congregation. They were more sorry for my own fatigue than for any thing else.

“The session appointed the sacrament to be dispensed on the 27th of July, a little above the head of the tide on the Middle River, the most central place that could be found. It was ;i beautiful green on the left bank of the river, sheltered by :\ lofty wood and winding bank. There, in the open air, the holy Supper was administered annually, as long as I was alone. Though it is thirty years since its last administration there, I never see the place without an awful and delightful recollection of the religious exercises of my youth, and of my young congregation, when, if I mistake not, we had happier communion with God than now, when our worldly enjoyments are ten times greater. Jer. ii. 2, ‘Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord, I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.’

“The day for dispensing the sacrament was published five weeks beforehand, that there might be sufficient time for examining intending communicants; and they were all particularly examined. It was agreed that the preceding Thursday should be observed as a day of public humiliation and prayer for preparation ; and that the English should be first this year, and the Gaelic the next year, and so on alternately. On the humiliation-day I earnestly exhorted the congregation to examine themselves impartially and thoroughly, to renounce hypocrisy and self-righteousness, to lay hold on the hope set before them in the gospel, and implore the gracious and merciful presence of God on the ensuing occasion, as I was a young and inexperienced minister, and the most of them were to be young and inexperienced communicants; and the first dispensation of the sacrament might have lasting effects of good or evil. I preached first in English, then in Gaelic, on the Thursday, the Saturday, and the Monday. On Sabbath I preached the action-sermon, fenced the tables, consecrated the elements, and served the first two tables in English, at which all the English communicants sat. The singing in English continued till all the Highlanders, who were waiting, filled the table. I then served two tables, gave directions, and preached the evening sermon in Gaelic. The work of the day was pretty equally divided between the two languages. But the Highlanders wanted the action-sermon, and the Lowlanders the evening sermon. This, however, could not be helped, but the want was partly supplied by previous instructions and directions.

“This was the first sacred Supper dispensed in Pictou; and though some, no doubt, communicated unworthily, yet I trust that a great majority were worthy. There have been some instances of apostasy, but they are few. Four-fifths of them have given in their account to the great Judge, and I hope few of them made shipwreck of faith; many of them adorned their profession, living and dying. The number of communicants was one hundred and thirty, of whom one hundred and two were heads of families, ten widowers and widows, living with their children, eight unmarried men, and ten strangers from Merigomish.'”

We shall speak more particularly hereafter of the dispensation of the Supper in the early years of his ministry. It may be interesting to add here such an account as we can give of the discourses preached on the occasion. For several Sabbaths previous he preached with reference to the observance of the Institution. The following are some of the subjects : on June 14th, 1 Cor. x. 16, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?” 1 Cor. x. 17—26: on June 28th, 1 Cor. v. 6, 7, 8. Two discourses; July 5th, 1 Cor. xi. 28, “But let a man examine himself and so let him eat of this bread and drink of this cup and Psal. xv.; on July 12, 1 Cor. 11-28,—Psal. xxvi. 1-7. On the Saturday previous to the dispensation of the ordinance he preached on Josh. iii. 5, “Sanctify yourselves; for to-morrow the Lord will do wonders among you;” and on Psal. x. 17, “ He will prepare your heart.” His action sermon was on Song ii. 16, “ My beloved is mine and I am his;” and on the evening of Sabbath his text was Psal. cxvi. 12, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me ?” We find a sermon on Luke vi. 40, “ The disciple is not above his master, but every one that is perfect shall be as his master,” marked, “ intended for Monday j” while on the Sabbath succeeding he preached on Psal. cxvi. 18, “ I will pay my vows unto the Lord, now in the presence of all his people,” and lectured on verses 12—19 of the same Psalm. It will be seen that he occupied mueh time and labour in preparatory discourses. More of this was necessary, than would have otherwise been, in consequence of the preaching being in different places, and it being requisite on each day to have one sermon in English and one in Gaelic. We shall give an outline of one of his Saturday sermons, and of his action-sermon :—

“Josh. iii. 5.—Sanctify yourselves, for to-morrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”

“I. Of the wonders which God will do.

1. He will let you see the evil of sin. Christ the beloved Son of God was brought by it to death. This was done by your thoughts, words, and actions. If yon can understand the whole sufferings of Christ, you may understand all the evil and all the desert of sin.

2. He will show the severity of God’s justice. He would not be satisfied with thirty-three years’ obedience. He required all the sufferings of his soul till his body was broken. “ Awake, O Sword, &c.” God loved him and was gracious to him, but that would not do. What will become of self-flattering sinners?

3. The love of God: of the Father in giving his Son whom he infinitely loved to be broken for us, and the Son in suffering for us, and the Holy Ghost in coming into sueh hellish hearts to prepare us for eating the broken body of Christ.

4. The virtue of Christ’s blood, to take away the guilt of sin, to give peaee to the conscience, in spite of sin and hell, to purify the heart, to strengthen it for God’s service, to fill it with the joy and peace of believing, to prevent our fears and exceed our hopes, to feed our souls.

II. Of our sanctification.

1. This says that we should understand something of God’s holiness. He is so holy that lie cannot keep communion with sinners—that the angels cover their faces, and that no unclean thing is meet to come before him.

2. That we are sensible of our unholiness, our original and actual transgressions, and that by these we are altogether as an unclean thing, a lump of hell.

3. That we are to depend on the Spirit for sanctification. We cannot sanctify ourselves. The Spirit is promised to sanctify us, and there is influence in Christ’s blood to sanctify us, and we must apply to this in the diligent use of means.

4. We are to retire from the world, and to examine our hearts, that we may part with whatever displeases a holy God, and that we may get a suitable frame of spirit to attend upon him. We are to cast out pride, the world, unbelief, malice, and vain thoughts. We arc to be in a humble, spiritual, fixed, loving, lively frame.

III. Of the reasons of it.

1. Because of the deceit of our hearts, which would outwit us if wc are not diligent, ‘ The heart is deceitful above all things.’

2. God’s jealousy for his holiness. He would break forth upon us. Ex. xix. Iii, 21, 24.

3. Because God delights himself in them that arc sanctified. Psa. lxxxvi. 2. ‘Holiness becomes God’s house.”’

Outline of action sermon on Song ii. 16. “ My beloved is mine and I am his.”

“I. My beloved is mine.

1. His righteousness is mine to pardon my sins, and make me be accounted as righteous in God’s sight, Jer. xxiii. 6; 2 Cor. v. 21. From blackness of hell he will make me fair as heaven. Isa. lxi. 10.

2. All his gracious promises are mine to quicken, sanctify, and save me. Faith puts all the promises of grace in my possession, and then all the grace in the promise is my property. Quickening grace, John v. 25, reviving grace, Hos. xiv. 7, sanctifying grace, Ezek. xxxvi. 25, 26, saving grace, Isa. xlv. 17, grace to overcome sin, Satan, and the world, 2 Cor. ix. 8; Phil. iv. 19.

3. His Father is mine, John xx. 17, to pity me, Fsa. ciii. 13, 14, to protect me, Jer. iii. 4, to accomplish all the promises of the covenant of grace, Psa. lxxxix. 4; John xvi. 27, to be my portion for ever, Psa. lxxiii.

4. His Spirit is mine, Rom. viii. 9, to teaeh me to pray, Rom. viii. 26, 27, to give me knowledge, Eph. i. 17, to sanctify me, 2 Thess. ii. 13, to apply a complete redemption to me, John xvi. 14.

5. My beloved’s person is mine, and all that he hath is mine. He is mine as God, and mine as Mediator; his divine perfections are mine, as power, wisdom, and holiness. The obedience and sufferings of the human nature are mine, to free me from the wrath to eome. As Mediator he is mine, to be my example to which I must strive to be more and more conformed, and to be mine eternal portion.

II. And I am his.

1. All my sins are his, Isa. liii. 6, my original sin and all my actual sins are his by imputation, 1 Pet. ii. 24, and so the punishment of them is his, Isa. liii. 4, 5 ; 1 Pet. iii. 18. My unworthy communicating is his.

2. All my sins, and infirmities, and failings, and afflictions, in a state of grace, are his. When I was nothing to him he took me and all my faults, Hos. ii. 19, 20 ; Psa. xcix. 8.

3. All my graces are his, for they are from him and shall be to him. 1 Cor. xv. 10. * By the grace of God I am what I am.’ I\ly fuith glorifies the truth and faithfulness of his promise, my love is the reflection of his, all my humility is the reflection of his condescension, and my patience the effort of his strength, 2 Cor. xii. 9.

4. My person, and my ability, and my talents, and all that I have and can do are his for ever, 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20; Matt. x. 37, 38; Isa. vi. 8: Psa. cxvi. 16.

Hence sec:

1. That persons need to look what they are doing, when they take and profess our religion. They then give themselves away, Matt, x. 39.

2. What is the proper work for a communion Sabbath, to be saying, ‘ My beloved is mine and I am his.’ God is for him in his soul. Give you yourselves to him in your soul.

3. What will make us worthy communicants. Christ is the fountain of grace. Go to him for all that you need.

4. How foolish they are who despise Christ. ‘ All that hate me love death.’ They lose the best jewels that exist for nothing.”


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